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Economy in Brief

U.S. Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims Unchanged
by Sandy Batten  June 6, 2019

The labor market remains historically quite robust. Initial claims for unemployment insurance were unchanged at 218,000 in week ended June 1 (the previous week's reading was revised up slightly from 215,000) and remain around their lowest level in nearly six decades. The latest reading was slightly higher than the 215,000 expected by the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell to 215,000 from 217,500 in the previous week.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance rose 20,000 to 1.682 million in the week ending May 25. The four-week moving average of claimants declined 1,000 to 1.673 million.

The insured rate of unemployment remained at the record low of 1.2% in the week ending May 25, where it's been for twelve months. The series dates back to 1970.

Given the high frequency of the claims data, they will surely be looked to for any indication that the recent escalation in trade tensions is adversely impacting the labor market. US-China tensions began to re-escalate in early May. Thus far, claims have not seemed to be much affected. The possibility of tariffs on goods imported from Mexico did not emerge until early June and so it is too soon to expect to see any impact on the labor market.

Insured rates of unemployment vary widely by state. In the week ending May 18, the lowest rates were in South Dakota (0.25%), Nebraska (0.33%), Florida (0.40%), North Carolina (0.44%), Indiana (0.44%) and North Dakota (0.44%). The highest rates were in Puerto Rico (1.68%), Connecticut (1.72%), California (1.87%), New Jersey (1.90%) and Alaska (2.16%). Among the other largest states by population, the rate was 0.94% in Texas, 1.20% in New York and 1.43% in Illinois. These state data are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on weekly unemployment claims going back to 1967 are contained in Haver's WEEKLY database, and they are summarized monthly in USECON. Data for individual states are in REGIONW. The expectations figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

Unemployment Insurance (SA, 000s) 06/01/19 05/25/19 05/18/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Initial Claims 218 218 212 -0.9 220 244 262
Continuing Claims  -- 1,682 1,662 -3.8 1,756 1,961 2,135
Insured Unemployment Rate (%) -- 1.2 1.2

(Jun 2018)

1.2 1.4 1.6
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